“You Keep Using That Word, ‘Ethics.’ I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means…” [CORRECTED!]

The Wisconsin Ethics Commission is a supposedly essential and honorable government agency whose mission is “ to promote and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of Wisconsin in their government, support the operation of open and responsible government, preserve the integrity of the governmental decision-making process, and protect the rights of individuals through the administration of Wisconsin’s campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws, and through readily available and understandable disclosure of information.​”

Democrat Scot Ross was named to Wisconsin’s state Ethics Commission last week.  What are his qualifications? Well, he’s a career partisan journalist and bare-knuckles political activist, neither of which are occupations that tend to build strong ethics alarms, or, as they are currently conceived, have any use for them. They do have a tendency to vomit out people like Ross.

This week,  the new ethics commission member retweeted a photoshopped image —Do I really have to show it to you? I guess I do—

among others, showing Michigan’s protesting  militia members carrying large sex toys instead of rifles during the recent protests of Governor Witmer’s over-reaching pandemic restrictions.  “As awesome as the ‘photoshopping giant dildos into photos of militia protestors’ is,” Ross wrote to his 5,572 followers, “it is even better if you do look at the clowns while listening to the ‘Stand With @scottwalker’ song.”

Ross then defended his communications as consistent with his role on the ethics commission. “I don’t think free speech belittles any democratic institution,” said Ross, who once ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Wisconsin Secretary of State. He went on to argue regarding the protestors,  “Their behavior is obscene and worth mocking,” adding, “I don’t like bullying.”

I would, given an opportunity, point out to Ross that this is a rationalization, specifically #2 A, Sicilian Ethics, or They had it coming“:

…This argues that wrongdoing toward a party isn’t really wrong when the aggrieved party has aggrieved the avenger. The victim of the unethical conduct no longer deserves ethical treatment because of the victim’s own misconduct. But the misconduct of a victim never justifies unethical conduct directed against that victim.

That, however, would be a waste of my time, since it is obvious that Ross, like most truly ethics-blind people, thinks rationalizations are ethics. For example, when he was asked if it was appropriate for a state ethics official to be retweeting  photoshopped images that turned the guns the protesters were holding (legally) into giant sex toys,  he answered, “I thought it was funny.”

That’s #55. The Joke Excuse, or “I was only kidding!”:

“…There are also people and organizations who make jokes in public at their peril. Professionals. Elected officials. Scholars. People who expect to be taken seriously and trusted….’It was a joke’ is not a justification in every case, never when it really wasn’t a joke, and often even when humor was the intent.”

Or to put it another way, a member of a public ethics commission can’t uphold the standards of that commission or be trusted to do so if he uses obscene imagery against those he disagrees with. When outgoing Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling appointed Ross, she said he was someone who “championed efforts to preserve Wisconsin’s proud tradition of clean, open and transparent government, high ethical standards and protect voting rights for every Wisconsin resident.”

She  must have been thinking ofa different Scot Ross. This one has, and had, a reputation for such excesses as the dildo tweet. He also tweeted that Senator Ron Johnson  “is the literally biggest piece of shit in Wisconsin.” He called Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican of course, “the Wisconsin Grand Wizard of the Flu Klux Klan.” He labeled the Republican Party “a white supremacy dung heap of racists.” He referred to  President Trump as “Dr. Shitler.” The Wisconsin State Journal considered that background when it opined  that Shilling  “soil[ed] her Senate exit with bad pick for ethics panel.” That seems fair.

Writing of the latest from Ross, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s  Daniel Bice  wrote yesterday that Ross’ selection “has been a controversial one, especially for those on the right.” Wrong. That kind of partisan-obsessed reaction is why people like Ross can continue to behave like this. A member of an ethics commission behaving uncivilly isn’t “controversial” at all. It’s a breach of duty. It is the act of an ethics corrupter. It doesn’t merely hurt his targets, like the protesters; it hurts his patron (Shilling), his party, his state, the public, and society, which it coarsens and divides.

Ross, as someone who wouldn’t know an ethical value from a whoopee cushion, sees nothing wrong with his behavior, of course. Instead, he fell back onto relying on more rationalizations, saying yesterday via email…

  • “Wisconsin Republicans have run to their rigged Republican-controlled state Supreme Court to stop the governor’s responsible, science based solutions.’

2. Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad

The mongrel offspring of The Golden Rationalization and the Bible-based dodges a bit farther down the list, the “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse is both a rationalization and a distraction. As a rationalization, it posits the absurd argument that because there is other wrongdoing by others that is similar, as bad or worse than the unethical conduct under examination, the wrongdoer’s conduct shouldn’t be criticized or noticed. As a distraction, the excuse is a pathetic attempt to focus a critic’s attention elsewhere, by shouting, “Never mind me! Why aren’t you going after those guys?

  • “I used the same social medium to mock how irresponsible and unsafe current and former Republican elected officials are acting. These Republican electeds shouldn’t just be mocked on social media, they should be held accountable by the voters, who have the final say.”

“Sicilian Ethics” again.

Then Ross let everyone know that  since all of the ethics commissioners are appointed by partisan officials, it’s OK for him to put partisanship above ethics. That was predictable: he’s embracing Rationalization Numero Uno, “Everybody does it.” Kids usually start spouting this one around the age of seven. Adults in positions of trust should have learned to reject it by the middle of high school,

Asked if he would rule on ethics complaints that involve those he has previously attacked on Twitter and elsewhere, Ross responded, “Of course.”

Of course.


Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Pointer: Paul Schlecht

18 thoughts on ““You Keep Using That Word, ‘Ethics.’ I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means…” [CORRECTED!]

    • Words fail me, Paulie. At first I thought the guys were actually holding spectacularly large dildos. Kind of disappointed they aren’t real. Certainly the guys would have been worthy of high praise for their sense of humor. I wondered, “What are they protesting?” The dildo on the left is clearly intended for use by gays and lesbians. Dildo number two in the center is for two women to enjoy together. Number three is obviously standard issue, albeit LARGE standard issue. Plus, they’re obviously hunters. Why are three hunters concerning themselves with women and gay guys sexual diversions? Are they Women’s Studies professors who also hunt on weekends (and of course, in season)? Just a wealth of mirth from the Dairy State. Again, words fail me. Cheers.

  1. What I never understand is how these people don’t realize that the joke in that image is essentially, “they are silly because they are like…gay.”

    Now, someone would likely come around and say, “no, those huge cocks are what their gun fetish is; their love of guns is just a big dick thing.”

    Okay, they just swap out homophobia for misandry. Then, I ask them how the rainbow cock is not homophobic. I don’t think they have an answer for that.

    Pulled this same argument on someone who posted one of those Trump kissing Putin drawings. He said he believed Trump was actually sexually attracted to Putin and there was nothing homophobic about it.

    Needless to say, I was not persuaded.


  2. ” ‘Never mind me! Why aren’t you going after those guys?’ ”

    Funny you should bring that up.

    To no one’s surprise, the once proud Capital Times (embarrassingly reduced to a Lefty rag/free weekly insert which I’m ashamed to say I used to deliver), and its apologists, John Nichols & David Zweifel, weighed in ever-so-lightly:

    “We should worry more about Donald Trump than Scot Ross”

    There you have the extent of their admonishment of a guy that once demanded that someone should “knock [U.S. Rep.] Doug Collins’ cracker teeth down his yokel throat,” who referred to a conservative commentator as a “blathering racist anus,” and implored “(U.S. Senator) “Ron Johnson please … FUCK yourself.”

    • The problem is that Scot Ross, pencil-neck that he is, is where it begins. God only knows where it ends. And, at some point, we need to admit that we might not even know what “it” actually is…Civil War…what?

        • This should tell everyone what the Wisconsin Ethics Commission will be doing in the near future; the witch hunt begins, it’s open season, I expect Scot Ross to have Republicans draped across the hood of his SUV.

          • ”I expect Scot Ross to have Republicans draped across the hood of his SUV.”

            Ross is nothing more than a gutless, weenie-whining, loud/potty-mouthed punk who’s warped idea of bravery is hurling juvenile insults from a safe distance.

            He hides behind the 1st Amendment when it’s convenient, ala “your Speech is Violence, our Violence is Speech.”

            Were it up-close-n-personal and they went to the mattresses, he’d turn tail and run so fast his Hempen Homespun bloomers would fly up over his head; then he’d WILT like August lettuce.

  3. This does beg the question of why Scot Ross chose to attack the anti-lockdown protesters.

    I suspect for many left-leaning people, supporting the lockdown, regardless of side effects nor how inane any particular policy could be, has become virtue-signaling their membership in Team Orange Man Bad. They refuse to defend theior positions, only accusing people of wanting people to die. This is why they are so adamant in clinging to their support of the lockdown even as there is more evidence that these lockdowns could be eased.

    Also note that they project the worst traits on those opposing the lockdown. They act as if only Trump supporters lost their jobs due to the shutdown. they act as if only businesses owned by Trump supporters were shut down.

  4. Why are the relatively decent and reasonable (anyone to the right of AOC) being demonized by the left?

    Who gave the left permission to act this way?

    What will they do when they are completely off their leashes?

    We may well find out in November.

  5. The appointment of Scot Ross to the State Ethics Commission is a huge embarrassment for the State of Wisconsin, his appointment and continued placement in the position is a signature significant action of those that appointed him.

    There are many within the political left in Wisconsin that stripped away their false facades of bipartisanship and took their gloves off when Act 10 rolled around and they have gone full-blown partisan stupid since then. Yes, bias makes you stupid.

    • Even worse, as in the instant case, it makes you look stupid as well.

      We’re seeing this mask dropping all over the place on the left these days. I count it as a positive. If we see these horrible actions and still take no action, we are getting both the government we deserve and our impotence mocked, just as we deserve.

  6. Glenn Logan wrote, “If we see these horrible actions and still take no action, we are getting both the government we deserve and our impotence mocked, just as we deserve.”

    Apathy of an individual can be quite self-destructive to their core morals and some might considered it to be a rationalization that encompasses a multitude of other rationalizations, where wide spread political apathy can be destructive to an entire society.

    Apathy Fertilizes A Breeding Ground For Stupidity

  7. As a former police marksman and lifelong firearms enthusiast, I have a number of gun-related “message” tee shirts. One of them pictures a man with a sniper rifle and the caption “Never mess with a man who can end your life from another zip code.” I’m not familiar with the pictured “militia members'” tolerance for humiliation (or their long-range shooting accuracy), but Ross might be well-served by heeding that advice.

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